Oh crap, Suzy thought. “Can’t it wait a little longer? We haven’t even had breakfast yet.”
“The time is now,” Itzcoatl insisted. “It says so here.” He brandished the morning copy of the Guts and Butts Gazette at his eternal mate and fellow demi-goddess. A tiny three-inch article on the front page alerted everyone to the upcoming start of the Chinese Year of the Snake.
Suzy desperately latched onto the “Chinese” aspect. “That’s just how they mark their calendar. They aren’t your true followers. Didn’t the Aztecs say to wait until 2030 at least?”
“The reach of the Feathered Serpent extends far beyond the puny Aztec Empire. All cultures worldwide have dragon myths. Who did you think prompted those?”
“Um … dinosaurs? Ancient peoples finding fossils?”
“Dinosaurs,” Itzcoatl scoffed. “Brutish creatures incapable of proper worship. The apes know how to do a sacrifice. Beating hearts ripped from the chests of still-living victims. Ahhh, those were the days.” He straightened majestically. “That’s what I want to begin my reign. A hundred thousand sacrifices. Cull the herd at the same time. Everyone benefits.”
“You can’t do that!”
“Why not? They’re just apes. They breed like flies. Sacrifice a hundred thousand, they’ll make more.”
Suzy groped for a plausible-sounding dissuasion. “We—that is, humans, we’re not used to seeing our gods in the flesh. They’ll be terrified. They won’t be able to worship you as you deserve.”
“You’re too harsh on your former species. They’re adaptable. They’ll adjust.” He hissed irritably. “I’ve held myself in hiding too long anyway. I should have manifested last month. The ancient calendar foretold the end of the mammals’ age and the rise of Quetzalcoatl’s scion. I should have been fully ensconced as ruler of the Earth by now.”
“I don’t think that’s what the Mayans meant.”
“Of course not. Forgive me, my love. We should be ruling the planet by now. These primitive monkeys need their god and goddess to set the perfect example for their imperfect lives. Have you seen the planet lately? They’ve focused solely on the male and ignored the female, and look where that belief’s gotten them. What in the name of my father were they thinking? Well,” he finished stoutly, “we’ll set that right soon enough.”
Stall, Suzy thought. As powerful as she had become once Itzcoatl ignited her ancient blood, she hadn’t force enough to stop a god. Especially not such a pigheaded god. Then she thought of someone who might be able to. “Shouldn’t you confer with your seer first? To make absolutely certain all the signs are right?”
“Of course. You’re correct as usual, my beating heart. I shall summon my prophet, and he will tell me how best to reveal myself to my god-starved people.” Itzcoatl licked his lips. “And where best to hold the sacrifices.”
# # #
Mierda, he thought, once the excruciating pain of the summons faded down to a stabbing ache. Damn loco snake’s gone off the rails again.
He wasted no time hotfooting it to the modest little bungalow the ancient serpent-god shared with his herpetologist, formerly-human mate. Itzcoatl welcomed him with a broad smile. “Lamar, my prophet. Embodiment of the sacred male and female. Has the time at last arrived for my glorious manifestation?”
“Hah?” said the prophet of the Serpent God.
Behind Itzcoatl’s back, Suzy held up the Gazette and pointed to the damning three column inches. “Oh yeah,” Lamar said. Jesu Cristo. Who the hell had let that slip? But then, who knew gods read the paper?
“He wants sacrifices,” Suzy said. “A hundred thousand of them.”
“Bad idea,” Lamar said at once. “Same for the manifesting. You can’t just jump into a manifestation. These are humans you’ll be ruling. They’re not big on sudden surprises, or global rulers popping up out of nowhere. They get loud and they get violent. You know apes.”
“Pah. Bronze axes and excrement. I’ve endured worse.”
“Um, it’s a bit more complex than that. The monkeys have gone nuclear since the last time you were out and about. Things could get messy.” Itzcoatl stared at him blankly. Hadn’t anyone ever explained to him about missiles and bombs? “A waste of good sacrifices,” Lamar said. The god’s face cleared again.
Lamar scrambled frantically for inspiration. Thank every other god in the universe, his writer’s brain complied. “You misunderstood the announcement, my lord. It says year of the snake. That means the entire year will be devoted to preparing the people of Earth. Paving the way for your coming. At the end of the year, then you show up. Then we’ll all be ready and can worship you properly, as you deserve.”
His tongue flicked in and out, beyond reach of his conscious control. He wished he had the nerve to openly wipe the sweat off his forehead.
“A year,” Itzcoatl grumbled. He looked to his mate. Suzy nodded eagerly. “A year of preparation. Yes, that would be helpful. It would spare me the effort of having to quell riots. Apes are such a nervous lot. But I will require sacrifices. That’s non-negotiable.”
“No prob.” Lamar shrugged. “Swallow a couple of world leaders.” That never hurt in any case.
“Very well, prophet. I will accept your counsel. How best am I to go about preparing the world for my rising?”
“Leave it to me,” Lamar said quickly. “You lay low. Stay out of sight. I’ll get the ball rolling. I’ll tell you when or if to put in an appearance. And no sacrifices. Not until the right moment. You know, once it’s too late.” He figured the god ought to get behind that one.
He did. His white teeth flashed. “Then go. Announce my coming. Let the world know the son of mighty Quetzalcoatl has returned, and soon will take his rightful place as ruler of this sorry planet. The Golden Age has come.” He glowed, as if to underscore his booming words. Just for an instant, Suzy glowed with him.
Lamar bowed himself out of the cottage. Once in the street, he ran like hell. Fast as he moved, he couldn’t outrun the memories. Distance didn’t help. This time, he realized with a sinking gut, he wasn’t going to forget. He’d been charged with a divine purpose. No protective amnesia allowed.
One year. He and Suzy had a year to figure out how to stop an Aztec god from taking over the world. And publically swallowing quite a few people, but that was secondary.
Shit, Lamar thought. Normally he swore in Spanish, but for a case like this you couldn’t beat the blunt impact of Anglo-Saxon curses. Shitshitshitshitshit. And one heart-felt fuck for good measure.